The choice of cabinets is arguably the most important decision when redoing a kitchen. White cabinets are at the top in popularity now.

Courtesy photo

The reign of the trophy kitchen is officially over. The dream kitchens of today aren’t about the sexiest six-burner range or the most exotic countertop material. As cooking has returned to center stage and remodeling budgets have sobered, the kitchen island is nurturing family togetherness and reviving casual entertaining.

In kitchens with a small footprint, glass tiles, quartz counters and dish drawers are adding sparkle and practicality. The kitchen of 2013 has soul.

“That industrial, commercial style was looking a little cold,” said Samantha Emmerling, kitchen editor at Hearst Design Group. “People are spending all their time in there, and they want it warm and inviting, as well as low-maintenance.”

A kitchen renovation is still costly. The average 2013 kitchen remodeling job is $47,308, down $3,742 from last year, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Designers say the look today is less tradition, more transition. Clients are choosing more modern touches such as white or gray cabinets, gray walls and neutral quartz counters, individualized with different textures and touches of color.

“Ten years ago, everyone showed up with the same photos of what they wanted,” said Paul Lobkovich, an architect and kitchen designer at Lobkovich Kitchen Designs in Virginia. “Now people are much more creative. They’ve seen plenty of HGTV shows and scoured Houzz and other web sites. They have a Pinterest board full of stuff they like. This gives people a wide range of unique looks. And it makes it more exciting for us designers.”

Yes, the kitchen is still the most obsessed-about room in the house, but it’s clear homeowners want more than just trends. They are seeking a calming space that makes them happy. “Lately it’s been less the kind of stars-in-the-eyes approach and a bit more practical with a simplified aesthetic,” said designer Eric Lieberknecht, who owns a kitchen design firm in Alexandria, Va. “People have a wide portfolio of things they want, and not just what their neighbor has.”

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